I spent a long time avoiding one-night stands. They made me feel uncomfortable in a way that was difficult to describe. In the end, I figured the uneasiness just came with the territory of being a hopeless romantic.
It turns out, it wasn't about romance. I'm actually quite okay with sleeping with someone I don't love. The reason why I always refused to go home with relative strangers was a different one entirely: I didn’t like the way they treated me. I thought one night stands equated to being treated like you weren't a person so much as a prize to be won. There was flirting and jokes, but by the end of the night, there was something hanging in the air.
The idea that by going along with the laughter and maybe even the kissing, I had agreed to come home with them.
This implicit understanding was one-sided though. I'd find myself saying no and feeling like I'd done something wrong. Why couldn't I just go along? The disappointed, sometimes even seriously confused looks I got left me wondering if I was a minority. Was I the only one who didn’t believe in sex on a first date?
The question was the same for those who just huffed as for those that asked me directly. We were just having fun, why was I being so difficult?
Here’s why: even though I enjoy having sex that doesn’t mean that I enjoy being treated like a commodity.
Maybe I just want to kiss, maybe I just want to have a laugh. Pressuring me and making me feel like I owe you something makes me want to run. It gives me the impression that I am not a person but some kind of servant, bound to an invisible contract. You have lived up to your part of the bargain by charming me so now I must own up to mine. No! No! And Super No!
That's not what relationships are about though, even if they are of the short-lived variety. It doesn't matter if we're spending a minute or a month together, whether I decide to sleep with you or not, I still deserve respect. I can not be bought and there isn’t a certain number of compliments you can pay someone to make sure that they will come home with you.
The only way you can improve the odds is by showing them that you actually care. You don’t have to make any promises but you do have to be kind. If sex is supposed to be for mutual enjoyment then it should involve mutual respect.
It should involve respecting other people and their decisions. Even if a woman does decide to sleep with you, that does not make her cheap in any way.
The first time I did decide to go for it was with an Italian boy who had spent the week before our date calling and texting me as though we were already dating. He’d call to see how I was doing and text me to let me know he couldn’t wait to see me. When he texted me after we had sex, the text only included one line: “want to fuck again?”
In one night I had gone from someone to be wooed to someone unworthy of a polite hello. My first thoughts were to never have a one night stand again and that somehow his behaviour was my fault.
Sleeping with him so soon had been a little slutty, so I deserved to be treated like a slut, didn’t I? Here’s the thing: women don’t fall into neat little categories like the one you sleep with and the one you marry. Even if we genuinely enjoy having sex for its own sake, that does not mean that we are any less valuable. Even if there is no intention of forming a serious relationship for either side that does not mean anyone likes to be treated as trash.
I refused to go home with men on a first date because I didn’t want to destroy any relationship potential and because I didn’t want to be treated like a slut. Only later did I realise that it wasn’t my problem.
I don’t want to date a man who changes his treatment of women in accordance with how soon they sleep with someone, especially if that someone is him. I did not want to go home with someone who made me feel like I owed it to them.
My problem was not with one night stands, it was with double standards. I wanted to be free to have as much or as little sex as I liked, with both a no and a yes being okay.
Okay in the sense that it would not involve judgement that is only reserved for women. Okay in the sense that a “no” would not turn me into a prude and a “yes” would not lose me all respect. I wanted to have a chance to see if I liked the guy without doing complicated maths in my head. I was tired of weighing the importance of timing against what I did or didn’t want to do at the time. In the end, what I learned was to follow my gut. If the guy made me laugh and I wanted to sleep with him, I did. Not because he pressured me or I felt I should but because I wanted to. If that ended up affecting his treatment of me I knew he was not someone I wanted to see again.
It turned out that my gut was a better judge than I’d given it credit for. I ended up saying “no” a lot before I eventually said “yes” to someone I judged trustworthy. When I did say yes, I was confident in my decision. I knew that I had made it for me. I slept with him because I wanted to and was able to enjoy it because I was freed of thoughts of “sluttiness” and consequences.
Written by Hannah Victoria
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